Rural road construction to cause July 4 travel delays

Vehicle crashes, severe weather and incomplete construction jobs, respectively, will be the top causes of road congestion on Independence Day.

According to a recent study by The Road Information Program, an estimated 33.9 million motorists are traveling this weekend, and many detours will occur due to rural road construction. TRIP, a research organization for the insurance, construction and automotive industries, says roadways in many parts of the country are becoming more crowded because a growing number of people are moving to rural areas in order to be near the mountains or the shore. The effect is compounded when vacationers clog the same roads.

To alleviate congestion, the organization’s study made four suggestions; transportation contractors doing work at off-peak hours was second on the list.

Improved work zone design and good planning of road improvement projects can minimize traffic disruption and reduce delays, according to the study. As they do for major commuter routes, transportation agencies should minimize lane closures during peak recreational travel times.

But with transportation construction employment and the building of new homes on the rise this summer, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association and the National Association of Homebuilders, summer congestion won’t improve anytime soon.

TRIP’s study also suggested one-time road expansion could solve congestion problems, but Greg Cohen, president and chief executive of the American Highway Users Alliance, said road expansion would be an endeavor too expensive for states, although some are already expanding roads.

“That’s the most expensive thing to do, obviously, but sometimes you have to go out and replace these old two-lane roads or old drawbridges,” he told reporters.

However, a federal highway bill currently awaiting congressional approval could help states fund such projects.

The study found the following 10 travel destinations have the most congestion (based on a composite index):

  1. Oregon Coast (US-20, US-30, US-26, SR-18 and SR-22)
  2. Tidewater region of Virginia (I-64)
  3. MD/DE shore (US-50 and SR-404)
  4. Branson, Mo.(US-65 and MO-76)
  5. Outer Banks of North Carolina(US-158)
  6. Cape Cod, Massachusetts(US-6)
  7. New Jersey shore (NJ SR 72)
  8. California’s Napa Valley (SR-29)
  9. Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish Country (US-30)
  10. Catskill Mountain region in New York (I-87 and SR-17)

Ebony Horton can be reached at ehorton@randallpub.com.